Hi my name is Merle and I am a puppy mill survivor. I am learning that many people don’t fully understand what that means. I believe that as more people understand what that means the less dogs will have to suffer in puppy mills. So please read on, and don’t worry, my story has a sweet ending.

A puppy mill is an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility that churns out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their mothers (and father’s – I was used for breeding for 7.5 years).

Puppy mills create sick and unsocialized dogs and puppies because we “live” in tiny wire cages piled atop one another or in outdoor pens lacking protection from the elements. We eat, sleep and give birth in confinement. Our cages are not clean and we rarely receive veterinary care nor are we groomed or bathed.

We are not treated as pets, we are not shown love or affection. We often spend our lives without being outside or knowing the feeling of grass under our paws. We have never played before and we don’t know love. When we are too exhausted, old or sick to produce puppies we are abandoned or killed, unless we are somehow rescued first…and that is where my story turns bright.

Since coming to Second Chance the world is now filled with kind and gentle people, sunshine, sweet-smelling grass, ample healthy food, comfy beds, and open yards to move freely about – and no cages. It is dog heaven.

I am learning slowly about this new and glorious world. I still get overwhelmed by all the change but am transitioning very fast. At first everything was scary, including all the other dogs, but it is bringing me joy so I am adapting. I am learning to walk on a leash and am making dog friends.

It still takes me a little time to warm up to new people but I am now brave enough to actually approach people rather than shy away from them. I am learning I can trust them. I am learning that being held makes me feel warm and full on the inside. I have never felt that before.

My people here believe I am ready for my forever home. That is scary but exciting to me as long as it is a quiet home where I can continue to adjust. I need a patient family who does not push me too quickly but helps to boost my confidence.

I think I would really like having a dog sibling too as long as it is not an overbearing one. I also think cats are cool and would likely make friends with one of those strange creatures too.

I am lucky. Many puppy mill dogs are not. Please educate yourself and others and work toward ending this grossly inhumane practice. Adopt pets from reputable shelters or rescue groups rather than purchasing through internet sales, online classified ads or pet shops.

If you are set on buying through a breeder (even though there are many full-bred dogs at shelters and many breed rescue groups out there) make sure you visit, in person, where the puppy was born and raised and where the mother lives as well. Responsible breeders will be happy and proud to show you this.

I hope to update you soon on the rest of my story, the part where I get adopted and live happily ever after…

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for over 26 years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about our Community Medical, Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, or other services. View our shelter pets and services online: www.adoptmountainpets.org.